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Alamo Square Park: What it looks like after $5.3 million renovation

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Most of the larger fixes are beneath the surface

View of Alamo Square Park from above. Photos by Patricia Chang

When it came time to cut the ribbon at Wednesday’s reopening of Alamo Square Park, city big shots stepped aside and let some local kids do the honors, via a pair of scissors almost as big as they were.

And with that, the year-long project that saw the selfie hot spot gated and off limits to the public except for a small viewing area (added after some people insisted on clamoring over the fences anyway) came to a fruitful conclusion.

Originally estimated to take seven months and $4.3 million, delays (often rain-related) pushed the final tally on the Alamo upgrade to a full year and $5.3 million.

For the most part the updated Alamo Square Park is very much like the old one, with the most visible differences being a new, pod-like restroom, repaved walkways, and the addition of some 45 additional trees.

The new drought-resistant lawn looks a bit uneven here and there, but will probably grow in a little more over time. The views of the Painted Ladies have of course not changed a bit.

Board President London Breed calls Alamo Square “one of the jewels” of San Francisco.

Recreation and Parks’s general manager Phil Ginsburg touted the new irrigation system, saying "This went from the most water wasting park in our system to the most water efficient park in our system.” A combination of bonds and grants going back to 2008 provided the funds.

Board of Supervisors president London Breed, whose district surrounds the park, called Alamo Square “One of the jewels of our city” on Wednesday, but it wasn’t always that way. Forty years ago, neighbors fretted that the park was a haven for drug dealing and crime—or so the nearby Neighborhood Association remembers it.

San Franciscans first started flocking to Alamo Square back when it was a strategically placed watering hole for horses on the trail between the Mission building and the Presidio. San Francisco Mayor James Van Ness created the 12-plus acre park around the watering hole in the 1850s and also conferred the Alamo name on it.

Over 150 years later, locals still stop in regularly on their way to and from the Mission, and the city still has its eye on the park’s water. Some things never change, but here’s a look at the parts that have:

Alamo Square

Steiner Street, San Francisco, CA 94117